Advocating on Behalf of the American Military and Defense on the War on Terror

Excuse me while I pick myself up from the floor, but CNN did a fact-check on the claims made from in the full-page advertisment taken out in the New York Times today.

Wolf Blitzer has more. (Wow, I can't believe I'm typing this.)


Click Here to View Video WOLF BLITZER:  When it comes to today’s testimony, the liberal advocacy group has been sharply critical of the current U.S. commander in Iraq, accusing him of quote “cooking the books for the White House.” MoveOn placed the controversial full-page ad in today's "New York Times" and reads “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” That ad has people on both sides of the isle crying foul.  Tom Foreman is joining us here in the Situation Room.  You’ve been doing a reality check on some of the claims in that ad so tell us what you picked up.

TOM FOREMAN: What we picked up mainly is that MoveOn itself is playing it quite fast and loose with the facts here. Listen to what move on said in their ad. Here's one of their assertions. “Every independent report on the ground situation in iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed.” Well contrary to that, we looked at the three examples they cited on their webpage as proof of this and all of the reports while highly critical of what has happened in the war, certainly stop short of saying the surge has failed. Some suggest in fact that the surge needs to go on in some fashion to keep things from getting much worse. MoveOn citing the New York Times says, “the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count.” What they're doing here is criticizing the numbers that the military is raising about the number of civilian deaths and troop deaths and that sort of thing but Petraeus directly countered this saying it is simply not true. Listen.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: They are false, that's correct.

UNKONOWN CONGRESSMAN: Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

GEN. PETRAEUS:  We have a formula for ethno-sectarian violence, there is a very clear definition about it. It's acts taken by individuals of one ethnic or sectarian grouping against another ethno-sectarian grouping in general for an ethno-sectarian reason. It is not that complicated candidly. If al Qaeda bombs a neighborhood that is shia, that is an incident and it is judged as such.


FOREMAN:  Now this can be very murky territory in terms of how the counts come through but as we here at CNN try to reconcile the Iraq government's count of fatalities there,  our military’s count of bodies there deaths there and the group, we found the numbers generally track with each other any way and are generally pretty much the same.

Here's another move on assertion, “we'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased but we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.”  Let’s look at a map of Baghdad, here’s one of the neighborhoods and in deed Petraeus did talk about the facts that there is violence in these neighborhoods. He didn't call it ethnic cleansing but her certainly talked about the notion that there remains a problem of violence here but the biggest area where he talked about a reduction in violence was Anbar Province out here which is sunni. It's not a question of one ethnic group driving another group out. This was an area where the Sunnis were fighting against al Qaeda and against American forces and decided ultimately to fight more against al Qaeda so that also raises a question.

The last part we want to raise about what MoveOn has said here, MoveOn says “we may hear plan to withdraw a few thousand American troops but we don't hear what Americans are desperate to hear: A timetable for withdrawing all our troops.”  Well, contrary to that Petraeus as you noted earlier Wolf, said we’re talking about 30,000 troops out by next summer. That's hardly a few thousand as this ad would suggest and while polls indicate that many Americans do want us out of this war, our latest poll here at CNN shows that they are less enthusiastic about a timetable. 48% say Congress should set one, but 50% of American say there should be no timetable. The simple truth is Wolf that everybody is pushing these facts around in a lot of ways and MoveOn with this ad certainly does not corner the market on the truth.

  BLITZER:  You will be getting some feedback on that fact check. Thanks very much.